American Heart Association Statement on New WHO Report “Ending Childhood Obesity”

January 27, 2016

Reference: The Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) [http://www.who.int/end-childhood-obesity/final-report/en/]

DALLAS, January 27, 2016 – The following statement is from Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, on a report on strategies to address rising global obesity rates.

Nations around the world should view the ECHO report as a wakeup call to aggressively address the childhood obesity epidemic using every recommendation possible. Children should be surrounded by healthy food and drinks and opportunities to play and be active. There is no reason a young child should be surrounded by junk food and sugary drinks or put in front of a screen without adequate time to be active. All children deserve to grow up at a healthy weight and the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity has underscored the key strategies communities around the globe can use to turn this crisis around.

The American Heart Association strongly supports multiple approaches to ensuring all Americans are able to eat healthy and get active. We applaud the Commission for all of the recommendations calling for urgent and meaningful action and our broad policy agenda aligns with many strategies included. In particular, the Commission’s call to action for these key evidence-based strategies is a priority for improving heart health, and we encourage immediate action to ensure this generation can lead the healthiest lives possible.

  • As Mexico has demonstrated, implementing taxes on sugary drinks is an effective strategy to reduce consumption of sugar and to fund nutrition and physical activity programs.
  • Restricting marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children supports parents’, caregivers’, and schools’ efforts to provide more nutritious foods instead of junk foods they are currently enticed to consume.
  • Increasing active time through physical education in schools goes far beyond heart health to improving academic achievement and adopting the skills for an active lifestyle as children and adults.

That’s why AHA focuses its efforts on educating the public on nutritious foods and physical activity, on activating advocates on policy change that can increase access to healthy living, and on supporting research that helps us better understand the most effective approaches to improving health and reducing disparities. We applaud our international and U.S. partners that are increasing access to healthy affordable foods and safe places for families to be active, schools for improving nutrition in the cafeteria, industry changes that provide healthier options and market those to children, and parents for making health a priority in their homes.

We are also buoyed by the momentum we are seeing as families, schools, industry and health advocates are increasingly working to drive meaningful and lasting change that shifts toward healthier living. Together, we can ensure that the places where our children live, learn, play and pray make it easy and enjoyable for them to eat healthy foods and be active.

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For media inquiries, please contact Suzette Harris at suzette.harris@heart.org or 214-706-1375